Percnon gibbesi (sally lightfoot crab)
- Summary of Invasiveness
- Taxonomic Tree
- Notes on Taxonomy and Nomenclature
- Distribution Table
- History of Introduction and Spread
- Risk of Introduction
- Habitat List
- Biology and Ecology
- Latitude/Altitude Ranges
- Water Tolerances
- Means of Movement and Dispersal
- Pathway Vectors
- Environmental Impact
- Risk and Impact Factors
- Similarities to Other Species/Conditions
- Prevention and Control
- Distribution Maps
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PicturesTop of page
IdentityTop of page
Preferred Scientific Name
- Percnon gibbesi (H. Milne Edwards, 1853)
Preferred Common Name
- sally lightfoot crab
International Common Names
- English: nimble spray crab
Summary of InvasivenessTop of page
P. gibbesi is the most invasive decapod crustacean to have entered the Mediterranean Sea. The vessel-transported crab was first recorded in 1999 from the Balearic Islands and Sicily, and has since spread to the Tyrrhenian and Ionian coasts of Italy, and eastwards to Turkey and Libya. Everywhere it has formed thriving high-density populations in an amazingly short space of time. Habitat overlap was noted with the native grapsid Pachygrapsus marmoratus and the pebble crab Eriphia verrucosa. Its distribution patterns may suggest a spatial resource partitioning and exclusion of native crab species.
Taxonomic TreeTop of page
- Domain: Eukaryota
- Kingdom: Metazoa
- Phylum: Arthropoda
- Subphylum: Crustacea
- Class: Malacostraca
- Subclass: Eumalacostraca
- Order: Decapoda
- Suborder: Reptantia
- Unknown: Grapsidoidea
- Family: Grapsidae
- Genus: Percnon
- Species: Percnon gibbesi
Notes on Taxonomy and NomenclatureTop of page
DescriptionTop of page
Carapace slim, disc-like, covered with short bristles except for raised bare patches. Front deeply cut by antennular furrows, interantennular margin armed with two erect spines distally and a row of inconspicuous spinules. Eyes large, reniform. Inner margin of orbit bearing three spines, two distal spines prominent; upper orbital margin medially serrate. Antero-lateral margins of carapace with four acute teeth. Chelipeds varying in size with age and sex, small in females, large and unequal in adult males; merus and carpus spinose; palm nearly smooth, oval; small pilose area proximally on inner surface and pilose groove proximally on upper surface; fingers short, blunt, with concave tips. Meral article of each walking leg with large uniform spines on anterior margin; posterior margin ending in a distal spine (Williams, 1965).
Carapace length to 3.7 cm. The colour in life is mottled greenish brown above; a median longitudinal stripe of white or pale blue; legs banded in golden yellow rings; eyestalks and chelae orange; ventral side pale.
DistributionTop of page
Distribution TableTop of page
The distribution in this summary table is based on all the information available. When several references are cited, they may give conflicting information on the status. Further details may be available for individual references in the Distribution Table Details section which can be selected by going to Generate Report.
|Continent/Country/Region||Distribution||Last Reported||Origin||First Reported||Invasive||Reference||Notes|
|Atlantic, Eastern Central||Present||Native||Manning and Holthuis, 1981|
|Atlantic, Southwest||Present||Native||Manning and Holthuis, 1981|
|Atlantic, Western Central||Present||Native||Manning and Holthuis, 1981|
|Pacific, Eastern Central||Present||Native||Manning and Holthuis, 1981|
|Pacific, Western Central||Present||Native||Manning and Holthuis, 1981|
|Turkey||Widespread||Introduced||2005||Invasive||Yokes and Galil, 2006||Observed Uc Adelar and Kas-Antalya|
|Libya||Widespread||Introduced||2004||Invasive||Elkrwe et al., 2008||Al Haniya|
|Greece||Widespread||Introduced||2005||Invasive||Cannicci et al., 2006; Thessalou-Legaki et al., 2006||Anitkythira, Xerocampus, Crete|
|Italy||Widespread||Introduced||1999||Invasive||Relini et al., 2000; Pipitone et al., 2001; Mori and Vacchi, 2002; Cannicci et al., 2004; Russo and Villani, 2005||First recorded in the Mediterranean - Linosa Island in the Straits of Sicily.|
|Malta||Widespread||Introduced||2001||Invasive||Borg and Attard-Montalto, 2002|
|Spain||Widespread||Introduced||Invasive||Müller, 2001; Deudero et al., 2005||Dragonera and Es Pantaleu islands - southwest of Mallorca.|
History of Introduction and SpreadTop of page
Risk of IntroductionTop of page
P. gibbesi is found over a wide latitudinal and temperature range extending from California to Chile, Florida to Brazil, and Portugal to the Gulf of Guinea (Manning and Holthuis, 1981; d’Udekem d’Acoz, 1999). The proposed mechanisms for the introduction and spread of P. gibbesi in the Mediterranean are larval transport by surface currents (Pipitone et al., 2001), and shipping (Galil et al., 2002). There is little data to support the plausibility of coastal adjective transport, beyond the crab’s long larval life span (up to 6 weeks). P. gibbesi inhabits a narrow subtidal zone (commonly at depths of 1-2 m). The crab’s life history characteristics: crevicolous habits and preferred habitat position itas a likely candidate for successful primary and secondary ship-borne transport (Coutts et al., 2003). The occurrence of P. gibbesi in the Balearic Islands, the Sicilian archipelago, Sardinia, the Parthenopean Islands, the Amalfitan coast, the little frequented island of Antikythira, and lately along the touristic Kas peninsula and Antalya, possibly points to the role of recreational vessels as vectors. P. gibbesi is found in shallow rocky habitats where it finds safety under boulders and in narrow crevices (Pipitone et al., 2001; Russo and Villani, 2005). The “… high affinity of this species for boulders” (Deudero et al., 2005), favours colonization of harbour breakwaters. Enclosed marinas have been shown to increase the chances of transport of alien species that occur in the harbour basin (Floerl and Inglis, 2003), and only a few ovigerous females may be needed to establish a viable population and expand its range. Further invasions are therefore likely.
HabitatTop of page
Habitat ListTop of page
|Intertidal zone||Principal habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
|Inshore marine||Principal habitat||Harmful (pest or invasive)|
Biology and EcologyTop of page
P. gibbesi was included in Schubart et al's (2000) study on the use of the mitochondrial 16S rRNA gene for phylogenetic and populations studies of Crustacea.
Female P. gibbesi reach sexual maturity at a carapace length of 15.0-16.0 mm, the smallest ovigerous female sampled was 16.1 mm. Ovigerous females occur between the end of May and September; most mature females collected from July to October carried eggs, whereas nearly all the mature females collected between November and March were not ovigerous. Brood size ranged from 254 eggs to nearly 32,000 eggs in largest egg mass, brood size is correlated with carapace size. Juveniles < 15 mm) were first observed at the end of September and throughout the winter until March (Sciberras and Schembri, 2008). Off West Africa ovigerous females have been collected in February, March, April and August (Manning and Holthuis, 1981).
P. gibbesi was observed to overlap in the shallow rocky intertidal zone with the native grapsid, Pachygrapsus marmoratus, and to a lesser degree with the native xanthid, Eriphia verrucosa (Sciberras and Schembri, 2008).
ClimateTop of page
|Cs - Warm temperate climate with dry summer||Preferred||Warm average temp. > 10°C, Cold average temp. > 0°C, dry summers|
Latitude/Altitude RangesTop of page
|Latitude North (°N)||Latitude South (°S)||Altitude Lower (m)||Altitude Upper (m)|
Water TolerancesTop of page
|Parameter||Minimum Value||Maximum Value||Typical Value||Status||Life Stage||Notes|
|Depth (m b.s.l.)||Optimum||0-30 tolerated|
|Salinity (part per thousand)||Optimum||34-39.5 tolerated|
|Water temperature (ºC temperature)||20||26||Optimum||16-31 tolerated|
Means of Movement and DispersalTop of page
Natural Dispersal (Non-Biotic)
Pathway VectorsTop of page
Environmental ImpactTop of page
Impact on Biodiversity
P. gibbesi and Pachygrapsus marmoratus have been considered potential competitors for space (Sciberras and Schembri, 2008) - and according to Müller (2001) for food - since the two species have been observed to occur in close proximity. Laboratory experiments indicate that when competing for space, P. marmoratus dominates the interactions with P. gibbesi and is thus unlikely to be excluded from its natural habitat by P. gibbesi.
Risk and Impact FactorsTop of page Impact outcomes
- Ecosystem change/ habitat alteration
- Rapid growth
- Highly likely to be transported internationally accidentally
- Difficult/costly to control
Similarities to Other Species/ConditionsTop of page
Prevention and ControlTop of page
ReferencesTop of page
Abelló P; Visauta E; Bucci A; Demestre M, 2003. [English title not available]. (Noves dades sobre l'expansió del cranc Percnon gibbesi (Brachyura: Grapsidae: Plagusiinae) a la Mediterrània occidental) Bolleti de la Societat d'Historia Natural de les Balears, 46:73-77.
Borg JJ; Attard-Montalto J, 2002. The grapsid crab Percnon gibbesi (Milne Edwards, 1853) (Crustacea, Decapoda, Brachyura), a new addition to the marine fauna of Malta. The Central Mediterranean Naturalist, 3:159-160.
Cannicci S; Badalamenti F; Milazzo M; Gomei M; Baccarella A; Vannini M, 2004. Unveiling the secrets of a successful invader: preliminary data on the biology and the ecology of the crab Percnon gibbesi (H. Milne Edwards, 1853). Rapports et Proces-Verbaux des Reunions Commission Internationale pour l'Exploration Scientifique de la Mer Méditerranée, 37:326.
Cannicci S; Garcia L; Galil BS, 2006. Racing across the Mediterranean - first record of Percnon gibbesi (Crustacea: Decapoda: Grapsidae) in Greece. Journal of the Marine Biology Association 2 - Biodiversity Records, 2006(5300):1-2. http://www.mba.ac.uk/jmba/jmba2biodiversityrecords.php?5300
Coutts ADM; Moore KM; Hewitt CL, 2003. Ships' sea-chests: an overlooked transfer mechanism for non-indigenous marine species? Marine Pollution Bulletin, 46:1504-1515.
Deudero S; Frau A; Cerda M; Hampel H, 2005. Distribution and densities of the decapod crab Percnon gibbesi, an invasive Grapsidae, in western Mediterranean waters. Marine Ecology Progress Series, 285:151-158.
d'Udekem d'Acoz C, 1999. Inventaire et distribution des crustacés decapods del'Atlantique nord-oriental, de la Méditerranée et des eaux continentals adjacentes au nord de 25°N. Patrimoines naturels (Muséum national d'Histoire naturelle,Institut d'Écologie et de Gestion de la Biodiversité et Service du Patrimoine Naturel), 40:x+383pp.
Elkrwe HM; Elhawaj HM; Galil BS; Abdallah AB, 2008. The first record of Percnon gibbesi (H. Milne Edwards, 1853) (Crustacea: Decapoda: Plagusiidae) from the southern rim of the Mediterranean. Aquatic Invasions, 3(2):243-245. http://www.aquaticinvasions.ru/2008/AI_2008_3_2_Elkrwe_etal.pdf
Galil B; Froglia C; Noel P, 2002. Volume 2 Crustaceans: decapods and stomatopods. In: CIESM Atlas of Exotic Species in the Mediterranean [ed. by Briand , F] Monaco, : CIESM Publishers, 192 pp.
Garcia L; Reviriego B, 2000. [English title not available]. (Presència del cranc subtropical Percnon gibbesi (H. Milne Edwards, 1853) (Crustacea, Brachyura, Grapsidae) a les Illes Balears. Primera cita a la Mediterrania occidental) Bolleti de la Societat d'Història Natural de les Balears, 43:81-89.
Mori M; Vacchi M, 2002. On a new occurrence of the alien flat crab, Percnon gibbesi (H. Milne Edwards), in the southern Sicily (Central Mediterranean Sea) (Crustacea, Brachyura, Grapsidae). Annali del Museo Civico di Storia Naturale "Giacomo Doria", 114:295-302.
Pipitone C; Badalamenti F; Sparrow A, 2001. Contribution to the knowledge of Percnon gibbesi (Decapoda, Grapsidae), an exotic species spreading rapidly in Sicilian waters. Crustaceana, 74(10):1009-1017.
Schubart CD; Neigel JE; Felder DL, 2000. Use of the mitochondrial 16S rRNA gene for phylogenetic and population studies of Crustacea. Crustac. Issues, 12:817-830.
Sciberras M; Schembri PJ, 2008. Biology and interspecific interactions of the alien crab Percnon gibbesi in the Maltese Islands. Marine Biology Research, 4(5):321-332. http://www.tandf.no/marinebiology
Thessalou-Legaki M; Zenetos A; Kambouroglou V; Corsini-Foka M; Kouraklis P; Dounas C; Nicolaidou A, 2006. The establishment of the invasive crab Percnon gibbesi (H. Milne Edwards, 1853) (Crustacea: Decapoda: Grapsidae) in Greek waters. Aquatic Invasions, 1(3):133-136.
Williams AB, 1965. Marine Decapod Crustaceans of the Carolinas. Fishery Bulletin, US Fish and Wildlife Service, 65(1):xi+298pp.
Yokes B; Galil BS, 2006. Touchdown - first record of Percnon gibbesi (H. Milne Edwards, 1853) (Crustacea: Decapoda: Grapsidae) along the Levant coast. Aquatic Invasions, 1(3):130-132.
OrganizationsTop of page
Europe: DAISIE - Delivering Alien Invasive Species Inventories for Europe, Web-based service, http://www.europe-aliens.org
ContributorsTop of page
06/07/09 Original text by:
Bella Galil, National Institute of Oceanography, Israel Oceanographic &, Limnological Research, Israel
Distribution MapsTop of page
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